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Tweaking Those Gaps Along Row Edges

Welcome, all of you new subscribers! This issue is about the little tricks crocheters use to lessen or prevent holes between the turning chain and a tall stitch (see far left swatch in photo below). This topic came to mind because I'm crocheting a shoulder bag and I don't want gaps at the sides. I really like the method I'm using.

First, a newsletter maintenance moment. I compiled a clickable index of my online free patterns dating from 2005 to today. (See link in the DV News section, lower right corner of this issue.) I found out that the first four issues of this newsletter are mysteriously missing from its archive link

Those gaps along the row edges of tall stitches happen when the turning chain (tch) counts as a stitch (st), because you skip the first st and begin crocheting in the 2nd stitch of each row. (See bottom of column for US/UK abbreviations used.) This is standard for tall crochet stitches, and sometimes also for hdc. A gap is often noticeable between the tch and the next st. Factors that may make the gap more noticeable are: how you turn your work; if the tch is taller than the rest of the sts; and the type of yarn and gauge used.

When the tch doesn't count as a st, it sits outside of the row edge, and this has its own pros & cons. In the upper photo, the second swatch from the left (call it "B") is worked the same as the first one (call it "A"), except that I worked a dc in the first st of every row; I didn't skip the first st, so the tch doesn't count as a st. No holes, and the edge is wavier.

Until five or so years ago, I was unaware of any of this. I knew only the standard beginner's way to start rows of dc--like swatch A--which dates from the 1970's for me. The gaps bothered me for years but I thought I was being picky. Then I took Lily Chin's Tips & Tricks class at a CGOA conference. It was really nice to learn that tch gaps bothered Lily too, and she addressed them head-on in her class. Her favorite solution is unique and can be found in her recent book Crochet Tips & Tricks.

What do others do? I found that this issue is usually not addressed at all. Out of 28 likely books, I found mentions in 9. Of these, some poo-pooed it as something that a perfectionist shouldn't obsess over, or that will disappear/be disguised during seaming. Some focus on how the work is turned; some recommend not skipping the first st of the row (i.e., so that the tch doesn't count as a st, like swatch B). Several recommend a shorter tch (for example, ch 2 instead of 3 to begin a dc row--see the center swatch above).  

I Love Stitching Choices!

I crocheted 10 fairly tight cotton swatches of dc, using different row edge tricks, such as:

  1. Turn the work 2 different ways 
  2. Skip the first st of each row, or not. (Note: if you skip, you must work the last st of the row into the top of the tch; if you don't skip the first st, you do skip the tch at the end). 
  3. Turn, sc in first st, ch 2 instead of ch 3, turn. (In upper photo, the far right swatch)
  4. Ch 2, turn instead of ch 3, turn. This only works for me if I don't skip the first st of the row, because a ch-2 tch is a bit too short for my dc (Note: Pauline Turner estimates that 50% of all crocheters make their dc shorter, closer in height to a ch-2 tch, and the other 50% make them closer in height to 3 chs. Blogged it:
  5. Ch 3, turn, dc2tog in first and second sts (i.e., a dc decrease: work an incomplete dc in the first st, then start another dc in the second st, and complete them both as one dc). (In upper photo, second swatch from right)
  6. Ch 3, turn, beginning linked dc (a dc that is linked to the tch) This is my personal favorite, because of how I tend to design: I prefer to create finished edges as I go if I can. Linking to the tch gives me a satisfying selvage, reminiscent of my sewing days. I also just plain enjoy linking sts and have no trouble remembering how to do it. In the photo below, the middle four swatches are all variations of dc linked to a ch-3 tch. Some skip the first st, some turn a different direction. I blogged a photo tutorial for the 3rd swatch from left (see right column).

Abbrev's: ch=chain, dc=double crochet {UK: tr}, dc2tog=decrease 1 stitch by working 2 double crochets together as one {UK: tr2tog}, hdc=half double crochet {UK: htr}, sc=single crochet {UK: dc}, st=stitch, tch=turning chain.

That's it for now! If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. (Click here to subscribe: ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti
Pull Up a Loop in a Turning Ch
Color me picky*, but I prefer selvages to stitch gaps
Link a dc to the tch
I couldn't find good online videos or other tutorials for linking to the turning chain, so I created one. This photo is part of photo tutorial for the beginning linked dc

This version creates a sturdy reinforced edge that is working out great for a bag! Other ways of linking to the turning chain can be seen in the photo at bottom left column (middle four swatches).

*Debbie Stoller's "Mind the Gap?" approach to this topic in her Happy Hookers book made me giggle.

Another alternative to the turning chain, discovered today!: 2-min. video

Links I Enjoyed This Week
Crochet a security camera! 
See the before and after photos in crocheter Jenn Ozkan's blog post: "Blocking, the all-important yet all-too-often skipped last step"

DesigningVashti News
My complete online free crochet pattern index from 2005-now, at the DesigningVashti blog:  I want to format moreof them into pdfs, like this one:
free DesigningVashti patterns

Doris was recently interviewed on the WEBS Ready Set Knit podcast #228 Meanwhile, WEBS made a fine little how-to video for the foundation double crochet that Doris used for Snow Day, a mobius cowl at DesigningVashti: 

for a new WEBS design called Valley Cowl. There's also a crochet along for it. You can find all the info with links to the video and Valley Cowl here:

The Aero Tunisian Filet Lace Wrap is now available, as predicted in the last issue. DV site:

The Jasmine Cords Superpattern (4 thread sizes) will be out next. Here's the "candied" (beaded) version in #20 thread:
Beaded Jasmine Necklace Cord
I love how versatile crochet cords are.

Why not a bejasmine'd cord to keep spectacles handy?
Bejasmined Spectacles Crochet Cord

Prue's Summer Messenger Bag is coming along. Here it is so far with stitch markers still in it:
PrueCrochet Messenger Bag
Its Ravelry project pg if you want to keep up with it:
Like Crochet Inspirations Newsletter #25: Tweaking Tall Turning Chains on Facebook
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